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Tanisha's law would require mental health training for all Ohio police officers
Family of a mentally ill woman who died in Cleveland police custody says police need to learn how to de-escalate problems

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M.L. Schultze
Attorney Al Gerhardstein says such training has reformed the Cincinnati police department.
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The family of Tanisha Anderson is pushing for a state law that ensures every police officer in Ohio is trained in ways to deal with mentally ill people.

Anderson, who had schizophrenia, died Nov. 13th. Cleveland police were taking her for a mental health evaluation when officers say she began to kick them and she fell to the ground. Her family – who had called police --  disputes much of that account and has filed a federal wrongful death suit.

Their attorney Al Gerhardstein says mental health training became a key part of the overhaul of the Cincinnati police department, which is now held up as a model.

LISTEN: Gerhardstein on changes needed

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“The first thing we did when we had our collaborative and our package of reforms was train every police officer on mental health response. And it just can’t come soon enough here in Cleveland that everyone should know what to do, how to do it and to know when they are in over their heads so they don’t make a sad situation worse.” 

The 37-year-old Anderson’s death has been ruled a homicide, a ruling that her mother, Cassandra Johnson, underscored in explaining the lawsuit and what the family is looking for. The family was looking for help, she says, but in the eyes of police:

LISTEN: Cassandra Johnson on her daughter's death

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"She became a criminal and she was not a criminal. She was a person with a mental disorder and she was treated like somebody that had a weapon."

A recent Justice Department review of Cleveland says better training to deal with people with mental illness is crucial. 

LISTEN: The Anderson family press conference
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